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Onsen: A Culture of Bathing

Onsen: A Culture of Bathing

If you are planning a visit to Japan and wish to experience one of the heights of Japanese luxury and culture, including a trip to an onsen is highly recommended. Onsen (温泉) are naturally-occurring hot springs that are found throughout the island nation. Onsen are an incredibly relaxing way to enjoy one of Japan’s oldest and most popular traditions.

How to Participate in a Geisha Dinner

How to Participate in a Geisha Dinner

So you've decided to take part in a formal Japanese dinner, maybe at a tea house.Today's topic is probably the most important for our readers making plans to go to Japan: How to prepare for and participate in a geisha dinner. What should you wear? What will happen during the dinner? What interactions can you expect?

The History of Geisha in Japanese Culture

The History of Geisha in Japanese Culture

Believe it or not, the original geisha hardly resembled modern geisha in any way. The first geisha were actually male, appearing around the year 1730. It was only about 20 years later that female geisha began to appear in the forms of odoriko (踊り子, meaning dancers) and shamisen players, and they quickly took over the profession, dominating it by 1780.

The Life of a Geisha

The Life of a Geisha

Geisha, at the most fundamental level, are professional entertainers. They are trained in a variety of Japanese traditional arts, such as dancing, singing, flute, and shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed instrument), as well as the art of hospitality. They also play games and engage in conversation with visitors, all in service of providing the most welcoming and intimate environment possible.

An unworldly experience: shrines and temples

An unworldly experience: shrines and temples

Previously, we talked about how to visit shrines and temples in Japan. This time, we are going to introduce how these sanctuaries give brief yet vivid glimpses into the everyday lives of the priests and monks who live there. Visiting a shrine or temple is a chance to experience a spiritually strengthening and cleansing practice unique to Japan.

How to visit a Japanese Shrine / Temple

How to visit a Japanese Shrine / Temple

When you arrive at the main area of the shrine or temple, what should you do? Perhaps drop a coin in the donation box? Then clap your hands and bow? Today's blog post will give you an introduction to Japanese shrines and temples so that the next time you visit, you'll know just what to do.

Origami, the Japanese Tradition of Paper Folding

Origami, the Japanese Tradition of Paper Folding

Do you remember making your first paper airplane or paper crane? Although commonly known in Japan today as a childhood pastime, origami (折り紙) has evolved into a major medium for artistic expression, with leading artists transforming simple geometric shapes into awe-inspiring imaginative forms.

The Beauty & Diversity of Japanese Pottery

The Beauty & Diversity of Japanese Pottery

There is something really exciting about taking a shapeless substance and transforming it into something unique, dynamic and brilliant. Perhaps this explains why, for thousands of years, extremely skilled and inspiring Japanese artisans have been transforming clay and other natural substances into extraordinary works of art.  

Perspectives on Japan’s Pleasure-Seeking Past: Discovering Ukiyo-e

Perspectives on Japan’s Pleasure-Seeking Past: Discovering Ukiyo-e

Pleasure was serious business in 18th century Japan. It was so serious that even an expression was created to reflect its growing significance at the height of the Edo period (1615-1868). Ukiyo (“the floating world”) describes the hedonistic tastes and pleasure-seeking ambitions of the rising merchant class (chonin) in Edo (modern day Tokyo) and Kyoto.

Winter Holidays In Japan

Winter Holidays In Japan

This winter season in Japan welcomes a rare experience of traditional holiday events, food, and unique Japanese holiday cheer. Japan’s winter skies are crisp with sunny weather, making it the perfect time for sightseeing and taking breathtaking photos.

Experiencing the art of Kabuki

Experiencing the art of Kabuki

The three syllables that make up the word “kabuki” (歌舞伎), mean “music”, “dance”, and “acting”, respectively. The whole word itself comes from an archaic verb kabuki, which means “to incline”, and references the actors' flamboyant clothes and actions. Since the kabuki’s founding, spectators were well aware that this new type of theater would be a strong deviation from noh traditions.

A brief guide to Naoshima

A brief guide to Naoshima

Naoshima 直島, a small island located in Setonaikai (a Japanese inland sea bordering 10 prefectures and containing numerous small islands), is only a ferry ride away from Hiroshima. After receiving many questions and requests for information regarding the island from our guests interested in art and design, we decided that a post should be dedicated to Naoshima.